Magistrate
Overview
A magistrate is an officer of the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 or prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 systems, a magistrate has limited law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 enforcement and administration authority. In civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 systems, a magistrate might be a judge in a superior court; the magistrate's court might have jurisdiction over civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 and criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 cases.
Encyclopedia
A magistrate is an officer of the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 or prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 systems, a magistrate has limited law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 enforcement and administration authority. In civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 systems, a magistrate might be a judge in a superior court; the magistrate's court might have jurisdiction over civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 and criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 cases. A related, but not always equivalent, term is chief magistrate
Chief Magistrate
Chief Magistrate is a generic designation for a public official whose office—individual or collegial—is the highest in his or her class, in either of the fundamental meanings of Magistrate : as a major political and administrative office , and/or as a judge Chief Magistrate is a generic designation...

, which historically can denote a political and administrative officer.

Etymology

Magistrate derives from the Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 word magistrat, denoting a "civil officer in charge of administrating laws" (c.1374); from the Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 magistrat; from the Latin magistratus, which derives from magister (master), from the root of magnus (great).

Original meaning

In ancient Rome, the word magistratus referred to one of the highest offices of state, and analogous offices in the local authorities such as municipium, which were subordinate only to the legislature of which they generally were members, often even ex officio, and often combined judicial and executive power, together constituting one jurisdiction. In Rome itself, the highest magistrates were members of the so-called cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

 -'career of honors'. They held both judicial and executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 power within their sphere of responsibility (hence the modern use of the term "magistrate" to denote both judicial and executive officers), and also had the power to issue ius honorarium, or magisterial law. The Consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 was the highest Roman
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 Magistrate. The Praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

 (the office was later divided into two, the Urban and Peregrine Praetors) was the highest judge in matters of private law
Private law
Private law is that part of a civil law legal system which is part of the jus commune that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts or torts, as it is called in the common law, and the law of obligations as it is called in civilian legal systems...

 between individual citizens, while the Curule Aedile
Aedile
Aedile was an office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order. There were two pairs of aediles. Two aediles were from the ranks of plebeians and the other...

s, who supervised public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

 in the city, exercised a limited civil jurisdiction in relation to the market
Market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

. Roman magistrates were not lawyers, but were advised by jurist
Jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

s who were experts in the law.

The term was maintained in most feudal successor states to the western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, mainly Germanic kingdoms, especially in city-states, where the term magistrate was also used as an abstract generic term, denoting the highest office, regardless of the formal titles (e.g. Consul, Mayor, Doge), even when that was actually a council. The term "chief magistrate
Chief Magistrate
Chief Magistrate is a generic designation for a public official whose office—individual or collegial—is the highest in his or her class, in either of the fundamental meanings of Magistrate : as a major political and administrative office , and/or as a judge Chief Magistrate is a generic designation...

" applied to the highest official, in sovereign entities the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and/or head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

.

Continental Europe and its former colonies

Under the civil law systems of European countries such as Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, "magistrate" is a generic term which comprises both prosecutors and judges (distinguished as 'standing' versus 'sitting' magistrature). It should be noted that the legal systems of these countries are not identical, and thus show some relevant differences in the judiciary organization.

As for Italy, the role of prosecutors and the role of judges is radically different; they have different powers and different responsibilities. It is true that a prosecutor can become a judge and vice versa; but this can only happen in different stages of one's career, and never in the same trial.

In Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, a magistrate is a state-appointed local administrative officer whose responsibilities include population information, public registers, acting as a public notary and conducting civil marriages and same-sex unions.

Mexico

In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 a Magistrado (magistrate), is a superior judge (and the highest-ranking State judge) hierarchically beneath the Supreme Court Justices (Ministros de la Corte Suprema) in the Federal Law System. The magistrado reviews the cases seen by a judge in a second term, if any of the parties disputes the verdict. For special cases, there are magistrados superiores (superior magistrates) who review the verdicts of special court and tribunal magistrates.

England and Wales

In the courts of England and Wales
Courts of England and Wales
Her Majesty's Courts of Justice of England and Wales are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales; they apply the law of England and Wales and are established under Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.The United Kingdom does not have...

, magistrates—also known as justices of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 (JPs)—hear prosecutions for and dispose of 'summary offence
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

s' and some 'triable-either-way offences' by making orders in regard to and placing additional requirements on offenders. Magistrates can only sentence for six months for one offence and twelve months consecutively, they can also give a maximum of a £5,000 fine; community orders which can include curfews, electronic tagging
Electronic tagging
Electronic tagging is a form of non-surreptitious surveillance consisting of an electronic device attached to a person or vehicle, especially certain criminals, allowing their whereabouts to be monitored. In general, devices locate themselves using GPS and report their position back to a control...

, requirements to perform unpaid work up to 300 hours or supervision up to three years and or various other options. Magistrates hear committal proceedings for certain offences, and can establish whether sufficient evidence exists to pass the case to a higher court for trial and sentencing. In more serious cases, magistrates have power to pass 'either-way' offenders to the Crown Court for sentencing when, in the opinion of the magistrates, a penalty greater than can be given in the magistrates' court is warranted. A wide range of other legal matters are within the remit of magistrates. In the past, magistrates have been responsible for granting licences to sell alcohol, for instance, but this function is now exercised by local councils though there is a right of appeal to the magistrates' court. Magistrates are also responsible for granting search warrants to the police and some other authorities, therefore it used to be a requirement that they live within a 15 miles (24.1 km) radius of the area they preside over (the commission area) in case they are needed to sign a warrant out-of-hours. However, commission areas were replaced with Local Justice Areas by the Courts Act 2003
Courts Act 2003
The Courts Act 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom implementing many of the recommendations in Sir Robin Auld's in England and Wales...

, meaning magistrates no longer need to live within 15 miles (24.1 km), although, in practice, many still do. Section 7 of the Courts Act 2003 states that "There shall be a commission of the peace for England and Wales— . . . b) addressed generally, and not by name, to all such persons as may from time to time hold office as justices of the peace for England and Wales". Thus every magistrate in England and Wales may act as a magistrate anywhere in England or Wales.

There are two types of magistrate in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

: justices of the peace and district judges (formerly known as stipendiary magistrates) permanently employed by the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Justice is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, who is responsible for improvements to the justice system so that it better serves the public...

 (until May 2007, the Department for Constitutional Affairs
Department for Constitutional Affairs
The Department for Constitutional Affairs was a United Kingdom government department. Its creation was announced on 12 June 2003 with the intention of replacing the Lord Chancellor's Department...

). Justices of the peace sit voluntarily, apart from an allowance being paid for loss of earnings, mileage and subsistence (which are at a standardised rate agreed by the Ministry of Justice). According to requirements, around 50% of them are women. The majority are seen as "middle class, middle aged and middle minded" and over 41% of magistrates are retired from employment while others may be self-employed or able to arrange leave from their employment. That said, there are those who recognise that three de facto jurors from the community may well have a more realistic understanding of local life than a single district judge whose background is in law rather than working in the wider community.

No formal qualifications are required but magistrates need intelligence, common sense, integrity and the capacity to act fairly. Membership is widely spread throughout the area covered and drawn from all walks of life. Police officers, traffic warden
Traffic warden
A traffic warden is a non-warranted officer employed by a statutory authority in jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Ireland, to assist in regulating the flow of traffic.- Ireland :...

s and members of the armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

, as well as their close relatives will not be appointed, nor will those convicted of certain criminal offences including recent minor offences. All magistrates receive training over a period of three months before sitting, carried out in conjunction with a mentoring program (mentors are magistrates with approximately five years service), which covers basic law and procedure and then continue to receive training throughout the first two years of their service and subsequently attend annual 'refresher courses.' Additional training is given to magistrates in the Youth Court, or those dealing with family matters. New magistrates sit with mentors on at least six occasions during their first year.

Magistrates are unpaid appointees but they may receive allowances to cover traveling expenses, subsistence and loss of earnings for those not paid by their employer whilst sitting as a magistrate. A Justice of the Peace may sit at any magistrate's court in England & Wales but in practice, are appointed to their local bench, (a colloquial and legal term for the local court), and are provided with advice, especially on sentencing, by a legally qualified Clerk to the Justices. They will normally sit as a panel of three with two as a minimum. Most are members of the Magistrates' Association, which provides advice, training and represents the approximately 30,000 magistrates to the Government. The Association also represents magistrates on the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

The second group are known as District Judges (Magistrates' Court), although hitherto they were known as Stipendiary Magistrates (which is to say, magistrates who received a stipend or payment). Unlike magistrates, District Judges (Magistrates' Court) sit alone. District Judges have tended to be appointed from the ranks of legal advisors to the magistrate's court and will be qualified solicitors or barristers. Questions have been raised by the Magistrates Association as to the legal safeguards of a single District Judge allowed to hear a case, decide the outcome and pass sentence without reference to another party.

Scotland

In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, the lowest level of law-court, the District Court, is presided over by a Justice of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

. The District Courts were replaced with Justice of the Peace Courts beginning in Sheriffdom of Lothian and Borders in December 2007.

Federal Magistrate

A Federal Magistrate occupies an office created in 1999. The Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
The Federal Magistrates Court is an Australian court established by the Federal Magistrates Act 1999 , although its first officers were not appointed until 2000...

 deals with more minor Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic."More recently it has been used for fraternal associations of some sovereign nations...

 law matters which had previously been heard by the Federal Court
Federal Court of Australia
The Federal Court of Australia is an Australian superior court of record which has jurisdiction to deal with most civil disputes governed by federal law , along with some summary criminal matters. Cases are heard at first instance by single Judges...

 (administrative law
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

, bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

, consumer protection
Consumer protection
Consumer protection laws designed to ensure fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional...

, trade practices, human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 and copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

) or the Family Court
Family Court of Australia
The Family Court of Australia is a superior Australian federal court of record which deals with family law matters. Together with the Federal Magistrates Court, it covers family law matters in all states and territories of Australia except Western Australia...

 (divorce, residence
Child custody
Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.Following ratification of the United...

 (or custody) and contact (or access) of the children, property division upon divorce, maintenance and child support
Child support
In family law and public policy, child support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship...

). The court's name is misleading, in that it exercises a jurisdiction well in excess of that of the state magistrates' courts, and similar to that of the District and County courts of the Australian states.

The Federal and Family Courts continue, but the Federal Magistrates hear shorter or less complex matters or matters in which the monetary sum in disputes does not exceed given amounts. For instance property divisions where the total assets are AUD $700,000 or less and consumer law matters (trade practices) where the amount claimed is less than $750,000. However, in some areas, such as bankruptcy and copyright, the court has unlimited jurisdiction.

The Federal Magistrates’ Court has assumed a significant part of the work load of the two superior courts. By 2004/05 the court was dealing with 73% of the total number of applications made in the three courts (see the Annual Report of the Federal Magistrates' Court 2004/2005).

State Magistrate

The State Magistrates in Australia derive from the English Magistrates. All Magistrates are salaried officers, and must be legally qualified and experienced to be eligible to be appointed.

The jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 of the magistrates varies from state to state
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

. They preside over courts which are, depending on the state, called Magistrates’ Courts, Local Courts
Local Court of New South Wales
There are over 160 Local Courts in New South Wales. Local Court cases are heard by a magistrate without a jury. It hears summary offences as well as indictable offences and committal hearings. It hears civil claims up to $100,000 and has a Small Claims Division for claims less than $10,000. It...

 or Courts of Petty Sessions.

Magistrates hear bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

 applications, motor licensing applications, applications for orders restraining a given individual from approaching a specific person (“intervention orders” or “apprehended violence orders”), summary criminal matters
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

, the least serious indictable criminal matters
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

, and civil matters where the disputed amount does not exceed AUD $40,000 to AUD $100,000 (depending on the State).

In some states such as Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 and NSW
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, the Magistrate may appear robed, although some Magistrates are known to prefer a business suit. Magistrates presiding in the Koori Court (which deals with Aboriginal
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

s) were originally of a mind not to appear robed; however elders within the Indigenous community urged Magistrates to continue wearing robes to mark the solemnity of the court process to defendants. Robing is being considered for Magistrates in other states; however, neither Counsel nor solicitors appear robed in any Australian Magistrates' court. Robing in summary courts is unlikely to extend to the legal profession.

Historically Magistrates in Australia have been referred to as “Your Worship”. (From Old English weorthscipe, meaning being worthy of respect.) However, members of the magistracy are now addressed as "Your Honour" in all states. This was partly to recognise the increasing role magistrates play in the administration of justice, but also to recognise the archaic nature of "Your Worship" and the tendency for witnesses and defendants to incorrectly use "Your Honour" in any event. It is also acceptable to address a magistrate simply as Sir or Madam.

Hong Kong

There are currently seven magistrates' courts in Hong Kong. Magistrates exercise criminal jurisdiction over a wide range of offences. Although there is a general limit of two years imprisonment or a fine of HK$100,000, certain statutory provisions give Magistrates the power to sentence up to three years imprisonment and to impose a fine up to HK$5,000,000.

India

There are four categories of magistrates in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. This classification is given in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. It stipulates that in each sessions district, there shall be
  • A Chief Judicial Magistrate
  • Judicial Magistrates First Class;
  • Judicial Magistrates Second Class; and
  • Executive Magistrates


"Chief Judicial Magistrate" includes Additional Chief Judicial magistrates also. There is a Sub Divisional Judicial magistrate in every Sub Division (SDJM) although he is technically only a Judicial Mgistrate First Class (JMFC). Judicial Magistrates can try criminal cases. A judicial magistrate first class can sentence a person to jail for up to three years and impose a fine of up to Rs 10,000. A judicial magistrate second class can sentence a person to jail for up to one year and impose a fine of up to Rs 3,000.

An Executive Magistrate is an officer of the Executive branch (as opposed to the Judicial branch) who is invested with specific powers under both the CrPC and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These powers are conferred in the main by the following sections of the CrPC: sections 107-110 and the relevant provisions; sec 133 and sec 144 and the relevant provisions, sec 145& 147 and the relevant provisions. These officers cannot try any accused nor pass verdicts. A person arrested on the orders of a court located outside the local jurisdiction should be produced before an Executive Magistrate who can also set the bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

 amount for the arrested individual to avoid police custody, depending on the terms of the warrant
Warrant (law)
Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is...

. The Executive Magistrate also can pass orders restraining persons from committing a particular act or preventing persons from entering an area (Sec 144 CrPC). There is no specific provision to order a "curfew
Curfew
A curfew is an order specifying a time after which certain regulations apply. Examples:# An order by a government for certain persons to return home daily before a certain time...

" The Executive Magistrates alone are authorized to use force against people. In plain language, they alone can disperse an "unlawful assembly"; technically, the police is to assist the Executive Magistrate. They can direct the police about the manner of force (baton charge
Baton charge
A baton charge is a coordinated tactic for dispersing crowds of people, usually used by police or military during public order situations. In certain countries, police are not authorised to use the tactic unless no other means can be practiced....

/ tear gas/blank fire/ firing) and also how much force should be used. They can also take the assistance of the Armed Forces to quell a riot.

There are, in each Revenue District (as opposed to a Sessions District) the following kinds of Executive Magistrates:
  • one District Magistrate (DM)
  • one or more Additional District Magistrates (ADM)
  • one or more Subdivisional District Magistrates (SDM)and
  • Executive Magistrates

All the Executive Magistrates of the district, except the ADM, are under the control of the DM; for magisterial duties, the ADM reports directly to the government and not to the DM.

These magistracies are normally conferred on the officers of the Revenue Department, although an officer can be appointed exclusively as an Executive Magistrate. Normally, the Collector of the district is appointed as the DM. Similarly, the Sub-Collectors are appointed as the SDMs. Tahsildars and Deputy/Additional Tahsildars are appointed as Executive Magistrates.

Under the old CrPC, there was no distinction between the Executive and Judicial Magistrates; some states still follow the old CrPC, e.g. Nagaland
Nagaland
Nagaland is a state in the far north-eastern part of India. It borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the north, Burma to the east and Manipur to the south. The state capital is Kohima, and the largest city is Dimapur...

; there, the Collector is also the head of the judicial branch of the district and can pass sentences, including capital punishment, under IPC.

New Zealand

The position of stipendiary magistrate in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 was renamed in 1980 to that of district court judge. The position was often known simply as magistrate, or the postnominal initials SM after a magistrate's name in newspapers' court reports.

In the late 1990s, a position of community magistrate was created for district courts on a trial basis; two community magistrates were initially required to sit to consider a case. Some of these community magistrates are still serving.

United States

Magistrates are somewhat less common in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 than in Europe, but the position does exist in some jurisdictions.

The term "magistrate" is often used (chiefly in judicial opinions) as a generic term for any independent judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 who is capable of issuing warrants
Warrant (law)
Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is...

, reviewing arrests
Arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

, etc. When used in this way it does not denote a judge with a particular office. Instead, it denotes (somewhat circularly) a judge or judicial officer who is capable of hearing and deciding a particular matter. That capability is defined by statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

 or by common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

. In Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, for example, the Constitution of 1971 created the office of magistrate to replace the use in cities and counties of the justice of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

, which is common in many states for this function.

As noted above, the terms "magistrate" or "chief magistrate" were sometimes used in the early days of the republic to refer to the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, as in President John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

's message to the U.S. Senate upon the death of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

: "His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read" (December 19, 1799).

Federal courts

In the United States federal courts
United States federal courts
The United States federal courts make up the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.-Categories:...

, a magistrate judge is a judge authorized by et seq. Magistrate judges are appointed by the life-term federal district judges
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

 of a particular court, serving terms of eight years if full-time, or four years if part-time, and may be reappointed. Magistrate judges conduct a wide range of judicial proceedings to expedite the disposition of the civil and criminal caseloads of the United States District Courts. Congress set forth in the statute powers and responsibilities that could be delegated by district court judges to magistrate judges. To achieve maximum flexibility in meeting the needs of each court, however, it left the actual determination of which duties to assign to magistrate judges to the individual courts.

State courts

In many state court systems in the United States, magistrate courts are the successor to Justice of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 courts, and frequently have authority to handle the trials of civil cases up to a certain dollar amount at issue, applications for bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

, arrest and search warrants, and the adjudication of petty or misdemeanor criminal offenses.

People's Republic of China

Magistrate, or chief magistrate, is also a common Chinese Chinese translation of xianzhang (县长/縣長 literally: county leader) the political head of a county or xiàn (县/縣) which ranks in the third level of the administrative hierarchy of the PRC. The translation dates from imperial China in which the county magistrate was the lowest official in the imperial Chinese bureaucracy and had judicial in addition to administrative functions.

In modern day Mainland China, the county leader is technically elected by the local people's congress but in fact is appointed by the Communist Party. Although there have been some elections at the lower township level, these elections (with one exception, which was considered irregular and illegal) have not extended up to the county level. Although not an important official, county leaders, particularly in rural areas, can sometimes have a strong impact on the lives of ordinary people by enforcing central government regulations or by turning a blind eye to their violation.

Switzerland

In Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, magistrate is a designation for the persons holding the most senior executive and judicial offices. On the federal level, the members of the Federal Council
Swiss Federal Council
The Federal Council is the seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss collective head of state....

, the Federal Chancellor and the judges on the Federal Supreme Court
Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland
The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland is the supreme court of Switzerland. It is located in Lausanne.According to the Constitution of Switzerland, the court has jurisdiction over violations of:*federal law;*public international law;*intercantonal law;...

 are called magistrates. The designation of magistrate is not a title
Title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

 or style
Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

. It does not, by itself, confer any particular privileges.

Taiwan (Republic of China)

In the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (which governs the island of Taiwan, as well as the islands of Kinmen and Matsu
Fujian Province (Republic of China)
Fujian Province is a province on the coast of southeastern China. Since 1949, Fujian has been split between two separate governments: the vast majority of Fujian province has been governed by the People's Republic of China ; while a number of offshore islands have been governed by the Republic of...

 off the Chinese coast and the islands of Pratas and Taiping in the South China Sea), magistrates are the heads of government of counties. The county magistrate election
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

s are heavily and sometimes bitterly contested, and are often a stepping-stone to higher office. County magistrate elections were first open to election in the 1960s and, before the end of martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 in 1991, were the highest elected position of any real power and hence the focus of election campaigns by the Tangwai
Tangwai
The Tangwai movement was a political movement in the Republic of China in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. Although the Kuomintang had allowed contested elections for a small number of seats in Legislative Yuan, opposition parties were still forbidden...

 movement.

In popular culture

  • British humourist P.G. Wodehouse wrote in one of his Jeeves and Wooster
    Jeeves and Wooster
    -External links:*—An episode guide to the series, including information about which episodes were adapted from which Wodehouse stories.*—Episode guides, screenshots and quotes from the four series....

    stories, "Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit" (1955), "Well, you know what magistrates are. The lowest form of pond life. When a fellow hasn't the brain
    Brain
    The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

    s and initiative to sell jellied eel
    Eel
    Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

    s, they make him a magistrate." Bertie Wooster
    Bertie Wooster
    Bertram Wilberforce "Bertie" Wooster is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves novels of British author P. G. Wodehouse. An English gentleman, one of the "idle rich" and a member of the Drones Club, he appears alongside his valet, Jeeves, whose genius manages to extricate Bertie or one of...

     often appeared before magistrates when he was arrested for minor offenses.
  • A plump and foolish magistrate is a key character in Amy Tan
    Amy Tan
    Amy Tan is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships. Her most well-known work is The Joy Luck Club, which has been translated into 35 languages...

    's children's book (and the related PBS television show) Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat
    Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat
    Sagwa is the name of a cat in the children's book Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat by author Amy Tan. Sagwa's popularity with children prompted an educational animated series of the same name on PBS Kids, with production held by French animation studio CineGroupe and Sesame Street creator Sesame...

    .
  • In the post-colonial novel Waiting for the Barbarians
    Waiting for the Barbarians
    Waiting for the Barbarians is a novel by the South African-born author J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. The novel was published in 1980. It was chosen by Penguin for its series Great Books of the 20th Century and won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and...

    by J.M. Coetzee, the story is told from the narrative perspective of the magistrate of one of the settlements in what is presumed to be Africa.
  • In the Walt Disney
    Walt Disney
    Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O...

     movie Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier, Davy is appointed magistrate of the local community.
  • Magistrates appear to be in the Star Trek
    Star Trek
    Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

     universe as well. In the Deep Space Nine
    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe...

     series, constable Odo often threatens detainees or those he suspects are guilty of various crimes and violations that he will send them to the Magistrate, telling them sarcastically, in response to their pleas of innocence, to "Tell it to the Magistrate".
  • The HBO show True Blood
    True Blood
    True Blood is an American television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in the state of Louisiana...

     has a Magistrate who appears to hold jurisdiction over the vampire kings and queens of the US.
  • In the first installation of the popular Starcraft
    StarCraft
    StarCraft is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The first game of the StarCraft series was released for Microsoft Windows on 31 March 1998. With more than 11 million copies sold worldwide as of February 2009, it is one of the best-selling...

     real time strategy series, you play as a Magistrate working for the Confederacy, a cruel government. You later join the Sons of Korhal, aiding in the rebellion.

See also

  • Agoranomi
    Agoranomi
    Agoranomi were magistrates in the republics of Greece, whose position and duties were in many respects similar to those of the aediles of Rome. In Athens there were ten, chosen annually by lot, five of whom took charge of the city and five of the Peiraeus...

  • Chief magistrate
    Chief Magistrate
    Chief Magistrate is a generic designation for a public official whose office—individual or collegial—is the highest in his or her class, in either of the fundamental meanings of Magistrate : as a major political and administrative office , and/or as a judge Chief Magistrate is a generic designation...

  • Justice in Eyre
    Justice in Eyre
    In English law, the Justices in Eyre were the highest magistrates in forest law, and presided over the court of justice-seat, a triennial court held to punish offenders against the forest law and enquire into the state of the forest and its officers...

  • Lawspeaker
    Lawspeaker
    A lawspeaker is a unique Scandinavian legal office. It has its basis in a common Germanic oral tradition, where wise men were asked to recite the law, but it was only in Scandinavia that the function evolved into an office...

  • Magistratus
  • Resident magistrate
    Resident Magistrate
    A resident magistrate is a title for magistrates used in certain parts of the world, that were, or are, governed by the British. Sometimes abbreviated as RM, it refers to suitably qualified personnel - notably well versed in the law - brought into an area from outside as the local magistrate,...


Sources and references

(incomplete)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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